Why Am I Vegan?
Over the past 10 months, I have had to answer the same question at least once a week to friends, family, co-workers and even strangers:
Why are you vegan?
Next time someone asks, I’m just going to refer them to this page!
Yes, it can get a bit irritating having to answer the same question over and over, but I never get upset because I totally understand. If I met someone five years ago who was vegan (or as my father-in-law-to-be says – doesn’t eat anything with a face), I would ask them the same question. What’s the point? What made you start? How do you live without cheese? Cheeseburgers? Mac n’ cheese? Cheese fries? Cream cheese? Cheese puffs? Grilled cheese? WHAT ABOUT THE CHEESE?
I know. Trust me…. I know the love of cheese all too well. Unfortunately it is an unrequited love, which is one of the reasons I started this vegan venture. However, there is really a laundry list of reasons as to why I went down this path (one of the main reasons it’s irritating to answer this question constantly – it takes forever!) Before I discuss these reasons, you should know that I am not a medical professional and everything in this post is my personal opinion or based on personal, informal research (Googling the shit out of veganism).
As you probably could have guessed, the very first thing that sparked the desire in me to learn more about being vegan was… a documentary! Surprise, surprise. It was a documentary I came across on Netlfix titled, “Veducated”. I obviously highly recommend it, as it was persuasive and moving enough to convince me to go all out vegan 6 days later! For me, this documentary primarily uncovered some of the disturbing information around the slaughtering of animals and the unnecessary treatment they’re forced to endure during their lives. Prior to my current job, I actually worked in a food manufacturing plant where thousands of animals were slaughtered every day to be transformed into delicious meals. While I will say that this company uses the most humane practices in the industry, it was still not an easy task for me to do my job knowing this was happening below me. I think it’s the animal-obsessed-cat-face-smoosher-toe-bean-tickler-nugget-lovin-crazy-lady that lives inside of me that just can’t willingly eat something that I should instead be snuggling. I know what you're thinking: "Calm down, animals were created for us to eat!" That's fine, I completely respect your option. But Imma just leave some baby animal pics here. MOVING ON.
Okay ladies, let’s be real. PMS is the worst. Worse than a break-up, cracking your iPhone screen, pit stains on a first date, spilling hot coffee on your crotch at 9am, and farting in the middle of Zumba class. PMS tops it all. For the better part of my vaginal bleeding life, I have suffered from horrendous PMS. I mean call-of-work-and-rock-in-fetal-position-on-the-shower-floor-waiting-to-finally-give-birth-to-devil-so-this-throbbing-pain-can-cease kind of PMS. During the six days between watching the documentary and starting a vegan diet, I furiously researched all possible benefits and consequences from veganism to make sure I wasn’t pursuing a type of lifestyle that would seriously harm me. To my surprise, one of the benefits I came across was decreased PMS, mainly due to the connection between PMS and dairy. Well, folks. I have to tell you. Since switching to a vegan diet, my PMS has virtually disappeared. I can’t forget to mention two very critical factors: 1) I ate A LOT of dairy prior to this dietary switch, and 2) these benefits did not occur immediately; it took about 3 months for me to begin to notice symptom alleviation. At this point, I have very minimal cramping, no more headaches, and barely any fatigue.
3. JOINT PAIN
This was a huge one for me; when I read this possible benefit, it was enough to make me want to start eating kale and edamame the very next day. I am a former competitive gymnast of 10+ years and random, severe, chronic joint pain is something that I experience on the daily. Specifically, my knees, hips and ankles are the biggest perpetrators. From what I have learned (from professor Google and assistant professor Wiki), the decrease in joint pain can likely be attributed to the decrease in dairy products. If you have a dairy allergy, your body will naturally produce an increased level of histamine and other chemicals as a reaction to the whey and casein proteins in cow’s milk. Spoiler = I have a dairy allergy. In reference to my comment earlier in this post, I used to be a HUGE dairy lover. Ice cream, cheese, yogurt, you name it. However, dairy definitely did not love me back and in showed it usually in the forms of diarrhea and gas to the nth degree.
When I was a teenager in high school, I never really had acne. I had a lot of people tell me how lucky I was for having such clear skin and not having to suffer through the physical, emotional and financial burden of a face full of zits. Unfortunately… my acne was just a late bloomer and it finally found me toward the end of college. I don’t know if it was the increased stress, the constant junk food, or God being mad at me for starting to date women, but I had a brand new patch of pimples popping up every morning! This facial disaster did not change for the next several years. So again, when I noticed a possible benefit of clearer skin as a result of eating vegan, I was all ears. The biggest reason for seeing less blemishes and overall clearer skin when eating a vegan diet is the increase in water. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s totally possible (and probably super easy) to get plenty of water while eating meat, eggs, cheese, and milk. However, switching to a vegan diet naturally causes you to increase your consumption of several food groups, two of the biggest being fruits and vegetables. When you start eating vegan, you want to make sure you’re still getting all of the right nutrients – especially the ones provided by animal products, including protein, iron, vitamin A, etc. Many of these essential nutrients are also found in….. you guessed it: fruits and vegetables. Spinach, bell peppers, cantaloupe, dark leafy greens, apples and zucchini are just a few examples that supply those important nutrients while also containing a ton of water.
5. DISEASE PREVENTION
As is the case with most people, I have a handful of diseases that run in my family and have unfortunately taken several wonderful people from my life. The most prevalent disease in my family history is colon cancer; I have lost two grandparents, two uncles and my mom is currently in remission (HOORAY), all from colon cancer. Within reason, I would try pretty much anything to lower my risk of developing this disease. According to several different evidence based articles, vegetarian and vegan diets are associated with lower chances of colon cancer. This is really not new information; it’s been known for quite awhile now that consuming red meat has been linked to an increase risk of colon cancer. As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a doctor nor am I a scientist, so I cannot explain the cause for this link. However, I am sure if you do some Googling, it’s out there!
No two bodies are the same, and a vegan diet is certainly not for everyone. These are just a few of the main reasons that I switched to this lifestyle. These benefits were really important to me and have had a huge impact on my life. If going vegan is something that you’re interested in, if you’re looking for some guidance on how to start and what to expect, or if you have any questions, I’m more than willing to discuss my journey so far.
P.s. Oreos are vegan - bet you're interested now!